Cooking vs. Buying

Something I’ve always wondered about was whether all the cooking I was doing was really saving me any money, or if it was just a tastier and more expensive alternative.  Luckily I was recently shown an article where someone put that question to the test, you can read it here:  How cost-effective is it to make homemade pantry staples? For those of you who aren’t a fan of leaving the site to read a long article, let me quote you some of the more interesting bits:

Bagels – Cheaper than store-bought? Dramatically. If you break down the cost of Clayton’s recipe, it works out to 23 cents per bagel. Moreover, if you use bulk yeast, which you should if you do much baking, the price drops to 15 cents. By comparison, one of Thomas’ so-called “bagels” is 45 cents. A fresh bagel from Noah’s in San Francisco: 75 cents. At H&H Bagels in New York City: $1.20!

Cream Cheese – Cheaper than store-bought? No. Homemade costs more than Philadelphia brand and almost twice as much as Safeway generic.

Yogurt – Cheaper than store-bought? Shockingly, yes, and by a lot. The ingredients to make 4 cups of ambrosial yogurt cost roughly $1.75. The cheapest, most insipid quart of factory-made yogurt that I found locally: $2.50.

Jam – Cheaper than store-bought? Depends. My organic strawberry jam cost slightly more than the corn-syrup-sweetened Safeway brand but less than the premium Bonne Maman.

Crackers – Cheaper than store-bought? A wash. Both “rich crackers” and Safeway’s Ritz knockoffs cost about 2 cents per cracker.

Granola – Cheaper than store-bought? At $1.45 per cup, no. Thanks largely to the staggering price of maple syrup, Brown’s granola costs roughly three times what you pay for Quaker 100% Natural. But when compared with a premium brand like Bear Naked, which works out to around $1.70 per cup, Brown’s granola begins to seem more reasonable. Plus, you can customize your granola, making it sweeter, omitting raisins, adding chocolate chips …

This makes me feel good, as even though it is a bit of give and take, many things are indeed cheaper.  In the future I think I’ll keep track of the foods I make and see how it works out.  I’ll post my results when I get a few.

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